McBride’s fight against Cele to keep his job appears headed for high court

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Ipid head Robert McBride says he wants Police Minister Bheki Cele to withdraw his decision not to renew his contract. File Picture: Supplied

A showdown between Independent Investigative Directorate (Ipid) director Robert McBride and Police Minister Bheki Cele about the renewal of McBride’s contract might be heading for court.

Cele informed McBride last month that he had decided not to renew his employment contract, and his last working day would be on 28 February, but McBride responded angrily, demanding that Cele withdraw his decision and refer the decision to the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on police.

He referred Cele to a 2016 Constitutional Court judgment that reinstated him in his post after then police minister Nathi Nhleko illegally suspended him and ruled the minister did not have the power to intervene in Ipid matters.

The Constitutional Court ruled that Sec 6(3) of the Ipid Act was unconstitutional for making the executive director subject to the laws governing the public service and found it was subversive of Ipid’s institutional and functional independence to empower the minister to unilaterally interfere with the director’s tenure, as it turned him into a public servant subject to the political control of the minister.

McBride has accused Cele of making a unilateral decision that was unlawful and violated the constitutionally entrenched independence of Ipid.

McBride and Cele today again exchanged angry emails, with Cele stating that he did not intend to remove McBride from office, but that his term of office expired on 29 February and the intention of his earlier letter was “to make that visible” to McBride.

“I have been advised that based on governing labour law principles, you cannot claim any right or legitimate expectation to the renewal of your contract.

“My decision not to renew your employment contract will be forwarded to the relevant parliamentary committee for consideration. You will be advised of the outcome,” the letter stated.

McBride in reply again demanded that Cele must either withdraw or stand by his decision not to renew his term of office and must ask the parliamentary portfolio committee on police to take a decision on whether to renew his term of office.

He also demanded written reasons for Cele’s decision and said if Cele did not respond positively to his requests, he would approach the high court for relief.

McBride has also been at loggerheads with national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole and two of his deputies after Ipid obtained subpoenas forcing them to submit to interviews relating to Ipid’s investigation into suspected multimillion-rand tender fraud and corruption involving SAPS management.

The subpoenaes are currently the subject of a legal challenge.

Ilse de Lange / The Citizen